• Recommended by TR
Canon IXUS 870 IS


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One thing you can rely on with Canon cameras is the quality of the components and the way they're put together. Build quality is simply superb, and everything works quickly and smoothly. Of particular note is the LCD monitor, which is one of the best I've seen on a compact camera. It measures three inches diagonally with a resolution of 230k dots, and is superbly bright and sharp, but it is the viewing angle that really impresses. It can be viewed from almost any angle; if you can see the screen, you can see what's on it. This is great for shots where you have to hold the camera at an unusual angle, such as shooting over crowds.

Turning to the control layout, the designer has gone for a motif of triangles and zig-zags. The control buttons on the back of the camera are large, but are arranged in a single curved strip down the right edge of the body. Unfortunately this leaves very little room to grip the camera, and despite the slight flaring of the right end of the front panel, the camera is quite hard to hold securely without accidentally pressing buttons with your thumb. Mode selection is via a rotating ring around the D-pad, and this too is very easy to jog while shooting. Some other recent Canon ultra-compacts have had issues with ergonomics. It's all very well making a camera look distinctive and interesting, but this should not be at the expense of usability. Canon could take a few lessons from Samsung and Panasonic in this department.

The 870 IS is a relatively straightforward point-and-shoot camera, and as such it isn't overburdened with features, but those it does have work well. It has Canon's impressive optical image stabilisation system, which is as good as ever, as well as an effective face detection system. This is used in the 870's one unusual feature, the Face Self-timer function. This is a clever and genuinely useful feature for social photography. Usually if you want to include yourself in a group shot, you have to set the self timer then quickly run around and join in the group, giving you just a couple of seconds to compose yourself and smile for the shot. The Face Self-timer mode detects the faces of your group, and then waits until it detects that a new face is added. It waits a further two seconds and then takes three shots in a row. It's simple, ingenious and works well.

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November 27, 2008, 6:27 pm

I'm actually surprised to see there are definite improvements in almost every respect over my two year old 850 IS. Now that may sound silly but the glass is probably the same and the sensor just crams more pixels into the same size sensor, which we all know doesn't necessarily improve performance.

However, the level of detail of this latest model is clearly a step up and the ISO range is usefully greater. The iContrast and Face detect timer also seem like very useful additions, rather than gimmicks like seen on so many others.

Tempting to upgrade but I'll resist.

Hitesh Wadhwani

November 27, 2008, 9:18 pm

This model also does not seem to have the manual controls that IXUS owners have been craving for. More megapixels and gimmicks just don't do the trick.


November 27, 2008, 9:24 pm

I've always found them to be of limited use as there's no manual shutter speed control. So I can't particularly imagine missing them.


November 27, 2008, 9:36 pm

I also have an 850IS, previously owning an Ixus between, I briefly had a 7MP Ricoh (briefly as in...a week), which had a 7x optical zoom and supposedly great features but I wasn't convinced of the image quality and it felt plasticky...

say whatever else, these little metal Ixus models ooze pure quality when you're holding them, they are constructed so well out of good Canon don't exactly have a bad reputation for their optics! I think the only thing that could sway me for buying a holiday camera is the monster zooms on those Lumix compacts!

Maybe I'm being a bit of a layman but as a point and click I can't see myself replacing the 850IS till it breaks (if such a thing happens!), it takes great pictures in most conditions, I'm sure this newer model is similar in that respect.

@Ed - I definitely think you should resist the upgrade urge, do you REALLY need the slight improvements? (I think my 850IS pics would look good up to at least A3 size, so for 6x4 it's good enough!). Just think of all the gadgets you don't already have that you could spend the 𧶀 on ;o)


November 27, 2008, 9:53 pm

Hehe, cheers gdawg304 but I'm already convinced I don't need to upgrade. My 850 IS is still going strong and I hope it will continue to do so for a good while yet.


November 27, 2008, 10:28 pm

well they do feel about as fragile as a lump of granite, which is more than can be said for the Ricoh I briefly had!


November 27, 2008, 11:26 pm

The 'IXUS 960 IS' Titanium is 𧴭 at amazon at the moment. You'd be nuts to not go for that.

Geoff Richards

November 28, 2008, 12:32 am

Here is the IXUS 960 IS review:

𧴯.99 as I type. Still, very tempting...


November 28, 2008, 1:24 am

You can get the VAT reduction off that 𧴯.99. You have to use the LOWERVAT code till monday... that brings the price down to 116 or 117. There is a free case with it as well.

Lee Hammond

November 28, 2008, 1:32 am

As Geoff stated, the IXUS 960IS is only 𧴰, and is arguably a better camera, I don't see any reason to buy this over the 960 really.


November 28, 2008, 4:01 am

Wow guys, hang on a minute. The 960 IS is a completely different kettle of fish to the 870 IS. Well, perhaps not completely different but it has one very significant difference - the 870 IS has a much wider wide angle. That's its major selling point. Though it's also slightly smaller and onboard processing seems to have improved on this latest model - reduction of purple fringing etc.

That said, the price difference is hard to argue with, assuming you can cope with the lack of wide angle.

Geoff Richards

December 1, 2008, 7:16 pm

Ed is right about the wide angle but I've taken the plunge - with the new 15% VAT the 960 IS is down to 𧴭.99 :)

Of course, then comes the extras: 㾹 for a nice leather case (why not?) and 㾸 for a 4GB Sandisk SD card (value++). Then delivery because I'm off on holiday this Saturday and can't wait for the super saver free delivery.

𧵎 all-in. Still a bargain. Merry Christmas me! :)

Luan Bach

December 4, 2008, 7:46 pm

Hi Geoff,

Is the 960IS better than the Canon Digital IXUS 80 IS ?


December 5, 2008, 10:45 pm

I had used older Canon models and wanted an upgrade for my Sony P9, so I decided on a Canon 870 as it had a wide angle lens. The first one I received had a number of dead pixels on the LCD screen. I wasn't impressed with the quality of the pictures taken so I asked for a replacement. When the second Canon arrived, it was exactly the same as far as picture quality was concerned. Out of focus or blurry images seemed to be the norm. I was expecting some increase in quality from my old Sony as its been knocked about and dropped a few times over the last few years.

I sent the second Canon 870 back and decided to keep the Sony going for a while longer.

I had tried experimenting with the Canon whilst on a weeks holiday but I just wasn't happy with the results. Paying nearly 𧶀 I really expected some increase in picture quality over the 4MP Sony P9 but there just wasn't.

I have read many reviews of the Canon 870, before and after buying, but my opinion is somewhat different to that of other users. Maybe I was unlucky? Maybe I am expecting too much?, but looking back at pictures taken with the Sony they are certainly better overall.

Craig 8

January 1, 2009, 10:35 am

So can someone tell me which one is better the Cannon powershot SD880IS...or the Canon IXUS 870IS...and what is the IXUS all about? seems like I saw a IXUS SD880IS somewhere along my surfing for a new camera... but I cant seem to find it now...if so...then i am really lost...I just wanna get a really good camera...can someone help me out with an oppinion or advise on what to get?

ken jowett

January 14, 2009, 3:20 am

im thinking about buying canon digital ixus 90 is has anyone got one or used one

Brian Light

January 15, 2009, 6:40 pm

I am undecided between the IXUS 870 IS and the 980.

Any help please?

James 16

June 10, 2009, 11:52 pm

I'm trying to decide on either this Ixus 870IS or the Lumix FS15. Is the Panasonic IA that important? Is it any better than the Canon auto features? I can get the Canon as a refurb for the same price as a new FS15

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